LOS ANGELES – The creators behind the Internet video mystery teen Lonelygirl15 have revealed themselves and want their fans to know they are not a front for a big Hollywood studio marketing some upcoming film.
Instead, the three friends launched the adventures of the doe-eyed, 16-year-old home-schooled "Bree" as an experiment in storytelling that they intend to continue on their own Web site, which was launched Tuesday.
Bree's inventors went public after fans of the two- to three-minute videos began questioning her existence and expressing disappointment that the seemingly genuine video diaries were a hoax.
The creators identified themselves to The Associated Press as Miles Beckett, 28, of Woodland Hills, Calif.; Mesh Flinders, 26, of Petaluma, Calif., and Greg Goodfried, 27, of Los Angeles.
Beckett, a self-confessed Internet geek, said he came up with the idea of using short videos as a storytelling technique while a surgical resident. Earlier this year, he met Flinders, a fledgling filmmaker, at a party.
"I saw YouTube coming about and podcasting and wanted to be a part of it," Beckett said.
Flinders said he had been developing the character of a teenage girl who was more at home relating to adults than with her peers.
The character never quite fit into any of his screenplays, but seemed a perfect fit for Beckett's idea of telling stories using video blogging.
The two joined with Goodfried, an attorney, recruited the actors to play Bree and her dorky boyfriend, Daniel, and began writing the broad outlines of an open-ended plot filled with the kind of mysteries and clues TV watchers know from the hit ABC show "Lost."
The short videos began appearing on the Web sites YouTube and MySpace in June. The creators said Tuesday that they never intended to stage a hoax or trick people into believing their characters were real.
"We never wanted to lie to people," Beckett said.
"Our job from the beginning was not to trick people. It was to create a character that was believable," Flinders said.
The trio began posting individually scripted and filmed episodes online and began incorporating changes based on reactions and suggestions from fans.
The result was part video game, where viewers exercise some measure of control over the characters, and part mystery novel, complete with hidden clues and cliffhanger chapters that left viewers wanting more.
Flinders writes scripts for each "episode" and the actress playing Bree delivers her lines with a persuasive power that still has some online viewers believing she is genuine, even after "The Creators" posted their online confession several days ago.
The three creators declined to identify the name of the actress Tuesday. But amateur Internet sleuths discovered she is Jessica Rose, a 19-year-old actress from New Zealand who recently moved to Los Angeles.
Despite suspicions that the videos were slickly produced, the creators say they use the same tools and resources available to others who regularly post videos on the Web.
The episodes are shot with a $130 Web camera and the lighting is provided by two desk lamps and a window. The sound comes from the Webcam's internal microphone.
"We're fans of this medium," Goodfried said. "It represents a shift from the content being in control of the big corporations to power being in the hands of the little guy who has a Webcam."
"We are the little guys," Beckett said.
The revelation that Bree was fake initially angered fans on YouTube, who suspected Lonelygirl15 was a slick Hollywood attempt to advertise some upcoming movie or TV show.
But since the creators revealed the fictitious nature of the show last week, the number of people subscribing to the Lonelygirl15 channel on YouTube has skyrocketed.
"Just because I know a movie isn't real isn't going to stop me from watching it," Alexandra Inman, a 17-year-old fan from St. Louis, said Tuesday. "I'm there for the entertainment."
Bree's adventures will continue on a new Web site created in conjunction with the online syndication network Revver.
The company helps video-makers profit from their efforts by attaching ads to each video, then burying a "tag" in the computer code that tracks where the video is posted. Revver then shares the ad revenue with the authors.
"The fact that creators are getting paid to make more stuff is a good thing," said Revver co-founder Steven Starr, a former Hollywood agent.
As far as what happens to Bree next or just how long "Season One" will last, the creators themselves are unsure.
The three are represented by Hollywood talent agency Creative Artists Agency, but say they have no immediate plans to make a Lonelygirl15 movie or TV show.
"We're moving forward and we want to keep doing what we've been doing," Beckett said.
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